For some historical obscurity the Scots decided to don a concealing breadcrumbed coat over these majestic creatures and freeze them. If the fridge was empty on a Sunday night, they were remembered in the freezer and lobbed into hot oil, placed in an artificial wicker basket with a plastic based doily and eaten with dollops of red sauce, chips and peas. Cutlery was limited to the spearing fork.
As a child the experience of eating scampi was similar to sharing a pot of gruel on a camping trip on Loch Etive. It was something to eat, purposeful in it’s destination but not in pleasure of the the journey. That was the way to strip nobility from this regal food. The Queen of the Scottish Seas treated like Mary.
We fish the langoustines with Ceol na Mara ‘Sound of the Sea’, a creel boat,
at the top of Loch Fyne. This type of fishing is sustainable and we take a small amount of bi-catch, squat lobster and crab, for the chefs to produce the amazing bisque that goes with the fish tart, or a 'Tourte de saumon fume et queues de langoustine', the starter in our 1860 at Home March 2021 menu.
Why does the langoustine not carry more prestige in Scotland?
The name is taken from the French word. There is not even a Gaelic word for it and the word scampi was borrowed from the Italians. They are officially known as Norway lobster or Dublin prawn. The Norwegians would fish UK and Irish waters and land them in Dublin.
Whilst strolling down the Rue des Herbes in the Vieux Port in St Tropez with a pronounced swagger of confidence and evident wealth, it is perfectly acceptable to sit on the quayside at Chez Madelaine and eat a bowl of grilled garlic buttered langoustines, crispy baguette and a Muscadet de Clisson. With nae fork required for this sheer indulgence of pleasure. Why can’t we do this on the Finnieston strip in the reassuring rain? Yet the langoustines have likely travelled further than you to get there. Cont.
Brought alive in trucks known as Viviers (French vivre, to live), constantly sprayed with salt water. 80% of the Scottish langoustine catch is exported. Before Brexshite you would see the Marisco trucks heading to Barcelona and then hanging a right to Madrid.
So, are all these European palates wrong? Why do we have a centuries old fear of eating them? They are incredibly versatile for cooking and eating. Bisque, garlic butter, cold with garlic mayo, pasta, ceviche, carpaccio, marinated, fish pies and tarts, salads. The meat is strong and sweet.
Langoustines are an excellent choice nutritionally. They are low in calories, contain proteins and high levels of Omega 3 fatty oils. You can buy them direct from the fishermen on social media or a good fishmonger. A kilo of fresh creel caught langoustines can be as little as £10 in certain parts of Scotland. Big pot of boiling water with bay leaves and a halved lemon and some black peppercorn. Put the langoustines in the pot and bring back to the boil. Serve with good mayonnaise. It’s that easy.
And of course you are helping to support a challenged fishing industry. The rights for our fishing were quite literally sold down the Loch by Westminster.
We’ll not get into that. Enjoy your langoustines…